Can The Internet Replace Church?

I was reading a discussion the other day on social media. The discussion was between a number of church members. One vocal member described that she gets much more out of “going to church” on the internet than when she actually enters the church building. “Going to church” on the internet affords the possibilities of always hearing the best preachers, she argued. These preachers are always relevant to the needs of their constituents and “feed” the flock better than the local pastor, according to the young woman.

InternetIn addition, she argued, she doesn’t have to be around those who do not like her so she doesn’t have to worry about “losing her religion” by going off on someone for not being as charitable to her as she considers herself to be.

As I think about the reasoning, I couldn’t help but wonder if our preaching has helped to create this mindset? Has our turning the church into being primarily the place where we receive religious entertainment turned church into something that may not really be that necessary?

Is church merely about you “getting what you need” or you “being fed?” Doesn’t it include you actually being a part of the feeding process? Doesn’t it include being a light to those who need to hear the word of hope that God has given to you? Maybe your conversation in the lobby was going to “help someone,” but you stayed at home to be fed by the Internet. Maybe your presence in the midst of trials was going to encourage the weak, but instead many kept their presence away from those who need it most. Maybe, your preacher needed to see your face to help guide the message. Maybe….

And maybe we need to “lose our religion” a few more times to learn patience. Maybe God has chosen the church to help you become better not simply to “shout” better. Maybe the church is one of God’s methods to help us and help us help others. Certainly the church is not perfect, but staying at home on the internet is not helping this imperfection. In fact, it makes it worse. The Bible said to neglect not the assembling of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:25) Obey God, not your own desires for a better preacher or a perfect neighbor…You have all the rest of the week to catch up on looking at your favorite preachers on the internet.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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